Eleven people have been shot in the foot over the past three weeks in Buffalo, six in a three-day period earlier this week.
Poor aim and accidental self-inflicted wounds are the most likely explanations, according to police, who do not believe gunmen are intentionally aiming for the feet.
Each year, several individuals who carry illegal firearms accidentally shoot themselves in the foot as they draw their weapons, Buffalo police said. Before patrol officers arrive to investigate, the wounded discard their guns and make up a story that they were shot by someone else, police say.
In the most recent foot shootings, though, two people were wounded Tuesday night on the West Side by a gunman who hid behind bushes and a fence in the 1200 block of West Avenue, near Potomac Avenue.
Heyde L. Melendez and Kelvin Melendez were taken to Erie County Medical Center after being shot at about 10:50 p.m., Northwest District police said.
Heyde Melendez, who was wounded in the right foot and ankle, was treated and released. Hospital officials said they had no record of Kelvin Melendez receiving treatment. Police said he suffered a wound to his left foot.
Just after 10 p.m. Sunday, four young men, ranging in age from their late teens to early 20s, suffered gunshot wounds to the left foot on the 100 block of Erb Street in what Northeast District police said was a drive-by shooting. The shots were fired from a dark-colored, four-door car. The wounded were treated in ECMC.
Two days earlier, at about 11:10 p.m. last Friday, one block west of Erb, a gunman in a gray four-door car fired a gun and struck Jaquan Williams in the right foot while in the 100 block of Eller Avenue, according to Ferry-Fillmore District police. It is unknown if Williams required treatment.
At 9:40 p.m. June 28, Louis Thomas told Ferry-Fillmore District officers someone in a sport utility vehicle shot him in the right foot on Gerhardt Street in the Jefferson-Dodge neighborhood. He was treated at ECMC.
The night of June 22, two people were shot within an hour of each other in the Ferry-Fillmore District.
At 10:50 p.m., Shawn M. Bentler, 25, told police that he was at New Babcock and William streets when a man approached him and demanded that he empty his pockets. Bentler said he heard a loud bang and realized he had been shot in the right foot. He was driven to a hospital and treated, authorities said.
Erique Giles, 25, suffered gunshot wounds to his chest and foot at 11:55 p.m. on Wohlers Avenue, near Woodlawn Avenue. He said two men ordered him to approach them, and as he ran from them they shot him. Giles’ wounds were not life-threatening, according to police.
Just after 9 p.m. June 16, a person whose name was unavailable was shot in the right arm and left foot at Herkimer and Breckenridge streets, Northwest District police said. The victim, police said, was treated in Women & Children’s Hospital.
But a new police strategy could help slow the pace of shootings.
It began July 1 and requires Homicide Squad and Intelligence Unit detectives to show up at every shooting scene where someone has been injured. The detectives will determine whether the attacks are gang-related or linked to other shootings.
The intent of this new approach is to increase the number of arrests involving gunfire, according to Chief of Detectives Dennis J. Richards.
“We hope to enhance the solvability of numerous shooting incidents,” Richards said. “Homicide detectives working along with Intelligence detectives are analyzing each case to determine if there is a gang role and to see if shooting incidents are linked.”